Daily flights to and from Auckland's Whenuapai Airport could become a reality after current Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon confirmed the airline has been looking into its viability.
In a statement, Luxon said customers have been telling the airline "loud and clear" that transport infrastructure to Auckland airport is 'suboptimal,' especially for those who live in west Auckland or the North Shore.
The swipe at Auckland International Airport didn't stop there.
"Once customers get to Auckland Airport their experience there is well below the standard they expect for the main entry point into our nation's largest city," the statement said.
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A spokesperson for Auckland Airport says while the idea of a commercial operation at Whenuapai has been long debated, it would likely result in the costly duplication of aeronautical assets at a time when "New Zealand is already under significant pressure in terms of infrastructure development".
The assessment of Whenuapai as an option is not yet completed, but the airline said it could be commercially viable to operate several services a day between Whenuapai and Wellington and Christchurch. Flights to Queenstown, Napier, Nelson and Palmerston North are also a possibility.
The airline plans to begin a conversation with the Government once their assessment is complete.
"Whenuapai is a key infrastructure asset for New Zealand, yet it could be utilised much more if the Government was up for considering it as a dual-use facility for both military and commercial operations."
The statement says moving some operations to Whenuapai would prove cheaper in the long run when compared to the costs of flying out of Auckland Airport.
"The bottom line is that over the next five years all airlines operating into and around New Zealand, especially those with Auckland Airport in their network, are going to come under significant pressure from a rapid escalation in airport charges."
Airlines have recently reconfirmed their desire for the company to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new aeronautical infrastructure." the spokesperson said.
The rapid increase of airline passenger numbers using Auckland Airport in recent years has seen the company launch one of New Zealand's 'most significant private infrastructure development programmes' to transform our precinct.
This includes a new domestic terminal and a new arrivals area at the international terminal.
Auckland Airport has already completed an upgrade and expansion to its departure area at the International Terminal.